February 12, 2012

Romney fever is not back, it was never here.

The Republican vote split - is it simply geographic?
With a win in a week-long process that finished up yesterday, Mitt Romney is back in the win column. It was predictable, as was the whole Romney-is-back-in-the-game meme in the mainstream media and the mainstream conservative media.  Romney is back, and the Santorum roll is over. But just as it was too soon to say that Romney had lost all momentum, it's too soon to say he's regained it.  No one has really had a ton of it and it is still early in the race. Maine changes nothing.

Take a look at the delegates and states won so far.  It sure looks like Rick Santorum has the Midwest in his camp.  Romney clearly is going to dominate in the Northeast, and possibly the west coast (plus Florida).  If Newt Gingrich can stick to winning on his southern strategy (especially if he can win Texas with Perry's help), then there is definitely a possibility of a three way split late into the contest.  Alternatively if either Gingrich or Santorum drop out, there is a distinct possibility of a Not Romney victory.

If that geographic breakdown holds, by the end of March 6th - Super Tuesday, Romney should have a lead, but not a commanding lead.  He should be in the low 300's range as far as delegates go.  Meanwhile both Gingrich and Santorum should be in the 175 delegate range (with perhaps up to a 25 delegate spread between the two of them) and Ron Paul will continue to scoop up some delegates and be pushing 90 (his delegate count, not his age).

If that pattern holds true it raises a number of questions.

(1)  Who wins Kansas?  Santorum or Gingrich are likely to both compete for the lead there (and in Oklahoma earlier on) as it is relatively speaking - common turf.  
(2)  Will Gingrich's financing hold out long enough to let this scenario play out?
(3)  Can either Santorum or Gingrich mount a credible ground game and if so, in how many states and how quickly?
(4)  What happens this month when there is a lull in contests?  Who raises the most and least money?

Those questions could shape the final outcome if indeed geography is the determining factor.

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